Last week after my There Are No Magic Beans post one of my favorite librarians, Daniel Cornwall, emailed me with some concerns about the post. I emailed him back and we had a good discussion. With his permission* I’m posting a revised edition of our conversation here. I’m sure he is not the only person who had one or all of these thoughts.
… I’m concerned that posts like these are going to have the opposite effect you intend. In concept I’m with you. People have to drop the expectation that they need do nothing after their shift ends (when I finish typing this note, I’ve got homework on digital repositories to do for Best Practices Exchange 2010). We all need to be lifelong learners even if we don’t want to be.
People already say and think those things about me. I don’t think one post is going to sway them one way or another. In fact based on my interactions with people like that nothing I say or do will change them. I can only hope they retire or find a new profession.
I think essentially telling people to grow up, stop whining and get back to work confirms whiny people in their belief that people just don’t understand what their lives are like. That it’s easy for a Bobbi Newman (and, in the world of govdocs, a Daniel Cornwall or James Jacobs) to do librarianship 24/7, but “some of us have lives – blah, blah, blah.”
Can I just say how much it pisses me off when people say something about “having a life” when it implies I don’t (or Daniel doesn’t). I have a life thank-you-very-much. One I’m pretty happy with actually. Granted it doesn’t include parking my butt in front of a tv for hours at an end, but I’m ok with that. I don’t do librarianship 24/7 but I do live my life with purpose aligned to my larger goals.
Nobody said it was going to be easy. Most things worth doing aren’t. I’m not interested in babysitting non-starters. I hope to provide motivation and ideas for people who already have some motivation. But the people who have heard the message and know there is a need and choose to spend their finding reasons not to it, nothing I say or do will change them.
Oddly enough I wrote that post in July and posted it the morning before TEDx Atlanta but I’m only more certain of it. I saw speeches from people who accomplished incredible things, things people told them they couldn’t do or that were impossible. They didn’t waste time trying to persuade the non-believers.
At the risk of suggesting something you might have already tried in the past, it might be more effective to highlight the ways that people make time to learn more or solve their problems. Ask your fan base for how they do it. I’m finding that my time on my stationary bike in the morning is good time for professional reading or networking with Facebook. Although today I watched Stargate Atlantis on my iPhone, but you get the idea.
Other suggestions might be material from WebJunction or any other number of sites that have resources of interest there for the taking. Empower people to make their lives richer and maybe they’ll take you up on it.
I think all of those are great ideas! Go for it! There is value in it and someone needs to be doing it. There was a point when I thought and did a lot of those things. It just isn’t how I’m interested in spending my time anymore.
Or keep whining. But if folks like us won’t stay positive, who will?
I actually see the original post as positive. I have worked long and hard to get where I am. I didn’t get here by whining that I didn’t have enough time. I found time, I taught myself. I’m a firm believer in hard work and taking responsibility for your own actions. There is so much I love about being a librarian and what I do. I’m tired of allowing a few to drag me down, I see that post as a declaration of that.
*Please note my comment policy states I reserve the right to post emails regarding blog posts.